A selfless 16-year-old has spoken out about her life as a young carer in order raise awareness of the situation she and many other teens across the county face at home.
Grace Huxtable, of Hemel Hempstead, has cared for her mother, who has problems with her spine, and her seven-year-old brother since she was just nine years old.
Due to her mother’s lack of mobility, the Adeyfield School pupil must help out with everything around the house when her dad, who is a full-time carer, goes out.
She is to feature in a brand new DVD created by the county-based charity Carers in Hertfordshire, which will be used in GP surgeries and schools.
She said: “To be honest, I’ve never known anything different so it feels normal.
“At the beginning I didn’t know anyone in the same position as me. I felt a bit lonely sometimes.
“I used to be really shy, so when I was invited to come along to a Carers in Hertfordshire Young Carers’ Council meeting I was a bit nervous, but it’s been brilliant to realise I’m not on my own. I have gained so much in confidence as well.”
Grace has gone on to become chairman of the Young Carers’ Council which decided to make the DVD, so that professionals in the care and education industries would understand what it is like to be a young carer.
Those working with carers from 70 surgeries across the Herts Valley clinical commissioning group will now come together to look at the DVD and see how they can improve the support given to young carers. The film, entitled SEE HEAR ACT, will also be used as a training tool by other health and social care professionals.
Herts Valley CCG chairman Nicolas Small said: “The caring responsibilities of children can often be invisible in thecommunity, leading to feelings of anxiety and isolation. That is why it is so important that professionals recognise this role early on so that they can support the young carer and their family.
“We are working with Carers in Hertfordshire to do this and this DVD is a valuable teaching resource for GP staff. We hope it will also encourage discussion about some of the issues facing young carers and raise awareness of the help that is available.”
Grace said: “It was a bit tough doing my GCSEs. Sometimes if I feel stressed about things at home it can have an impact on my schoolwork. Teachers don’t necessarily understand that. I hope this DVD will help us to explain what it feels like.”